Last March, I was involved in the planning of a musical event on our campus to mark the UN Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. We had lined up some students to do the introductions to the day’s performances. A few minutes before showtime, I handed one of the volunteers the text on the background for the day he was to incorporate into his intro. He quickly reviewed it aloud and stopped at the word “apartheid”, stared at it for a moment, and asked, “How do I pronounce this word?” I told him and he dutifully practiced it a couple of times, as if it were his first encounter with the term.
I had a “How can this be?” moment but quickly wrote it off to a range of possible reasonable explanations: a learning disability, nerves, familiarity with the concept but just not the word in written form. He executed his duties smoothly and I applauded his commitment to the issues. Continue reading